QUEZON CITY, Philippines—After six decades of championship drought, the National University (NU) Bulldogs defeated the Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws, 75-59, in Game Three of the UAAP championship series held Wednesday afternoon at the full-house Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Cameronian center Alfred Aroga led the Bulldogs with 24 points and 16 rebounds. He also took home the Finals’ Most Valuable Player (MVP) award, after missing from action last season due to residency issues.
Gelo Alolino also contributed for NU with 12 points and five rebounds; while team captain Glenn Khobuntin made two free throws to finish both the game and his UAAP career with 10 points, six boards, two assists and one steal.
After earning a slim 30-26 lead, NU unleashed their trademark lockdown defense and ignited a 10-0 run to take control heading into the fourth. They also had their biggest lead of the game, 70-54, with two minutes to play in the fourth quarter.
J-Jay Alejandro also added 10 markers for the Bulldogs; while head coach Eric Altamirano earned praises for steering the team to victory in front of a packed 25,118 crowd inside the Big Dome.
Their victory were also lauded by fans and observers in social media, with the words Congrats NU being part of Twitter’s Philippine trends during the evening.
“I thank God for the opportunity of just being able to finish the game the right way,” said Altamirano, who also won two championships in the PBA.
National University, then mentored by coach Skip Gunito, captured their first ever UAAP crown in September 19, 1954 after defeating the Far Eastern University, 41-36. They had a chance to win the crown in 1970 but fell short against the University of the East.
NU’s first UAAP crown came six years after SM Group acquired majority of the university’s ownership, which also paved way for renovating their sporting programs, including basketball.
Aside from garnering the senior men’s basketball accolade, NU also took home the top cheerdance honors last month, and dominated both the women’s and juniors basketball divisions as well.
Before sending a 62-47 equalizer last week, the Bulldogs bowed to the Tamaraws in Game One, 5-70.
Meanwhile, Mike Tolomia led the Tamaraws with a career-high 23 points; while Mythical Five member Mac Belo added 17 points and 13 rebounds.